Australian startup Local Measure hits the global stage

Local Measure has made a name for itself overseas, merging local content and social media to provide live access to data and analytics; but it has only just begun for the Sydney startup, set to extend its global footprint with backing from some of the world's 'top techers'.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Four years ago a Sydney-based startup began its journey in the Australian tech scene, and two years later a location-based customer intelligence platform was created. By 2015, Local Measure has offices around the world, a multinational client portfolio, and an advisory board of "top techers".

Jonathan Barouch, founder and CEO of Local Measure, told ZDNet the two-year-old idea came from his obsession with the amount of data that exists in the world.

"We always saw the value in local data in terms of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and what people are sharing in a really local context," he said. "Our first idea was how do we pull all that data and aggregate it really well so we can share it with consumers to get a sense of what's going on in their local environment."

With offices in Singapore, London, Miami, and a small support office in Manilla, Barouch said his company are dealing with "quite a few" global clients such as Dubai Tourism, Accor Hotels, Virgin Hotels, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

"We've got VPs in each region who run them quite competently, such as Matt who heads our London office was previously a senior executive of Yahoo in Europe," Barouch said. "A lot of global clients do want you to be in their region to support them locally, which has been a big advantage for us."

Barouch said it is tough being a startup in Australia, and that he found the tech ecosystem in the country to be still in its embryonic stages, whereas in London, and particularly San Francisco, there are people who have "been around the block".

"We realised that in order to be successful overseas, we would need voices, assistance, and counsel from folks in those markets who live and breathe it, and really know what's going on."

Twelve months ago Local Measure set out to head hunt a group of people who would form an advisory board to help project the Sydney startup onto the global stage. The global advisory board is about to launch, and comprises of leaders from high-profile businesses, that Barouch said are dedicated to expanding the company's growth in existing and new markets.

"What we get from these advisers is experience, know-how, local introductions, and even a bit of credibility in the space," he said. "The depth of experience we can get from these folks is second to none."

The board includes US-based Alan Moss, vice president online sales Americas from Google; Phil Richardson, senior product director from Salesforce.com; from Singapore John Mims, former senior vice president worldwide sales and marketing at Las Vegas Sands; and private investor from the United Kingdom, Bart Swanson.

"Successful people you see in this space are very interested in giving back to the next generation; they've been through the struggle themselves," Barouch said of the advisory board. He added: "It's a common occurrence for a startup in the US to have an advisory board, and after kicking one off, I can really see why."

Despite Local Measure's international success, its head office is still in Australia with the company's technology and product built on home turf.

Locally, clients of the Aussie startup include Qantas; the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, who Barouch said are huge advocates of his platform; the Gold Coast's Movie World and Sea World; and the Powerhouse Museum.

"Local measure is first and foremost a customer cloud-based intelligence tool," Barouch said. "What we do is insights and demographics; really rich analytics around what's working and what's not, which gives organisations access such amazing content on the domain. So their customers are, I suppose, telling a story of a business; we help companies re-purpose that.

"If you share a photo on social media and don't mention where you are, but your location settings are on [on your smartphone]; because you've shared your GPS location in a public domain, we can pick that up and give it to the general manager, and say 'there's a guest in your lobby, they've got 100,000 followers and they've just said something negative about your hotel -- you might want to go up to them and fix it'."

"In real time, across multiple locations everything's actively being shared; people share everything, from preferences to really stupid things that create enormous brand risk, such as staff taking selfies doing really dumb things, so there's a really serious side to this from an asset owner."

In terms of revenue, Local Measure is set to close this year out in single digit millions. Barouch said he expects the product trajectory over the last year to continue into 2016.

"In the next four to five months we're building out a whole new reporting and analytics suite, with new capabilities that will crunch the data really fast. I think the next phase beyond that will be to start to integrate the data insights and customer profiles into other platforms, which will then help our clients better personalise the way they communicate with their customers."

Local Measure are also working on language detection, having recently added translation ability into the platform, so a concierge in Thailand, for example, can translate an English piece in real-time.

"There's not a huge difference in terms of feature sets globally; we're pretty lucky that our product lends itself to clients all over the world," he said. "There was a whole bunch of things we didn't expect before we rolled out globally but it's been great, and it's helped mature our platform; we've learnt what it really takes to create a truly scalable B2B enterprise business from Australia.

"In a year, I hope we're having the same conversation that our revenue has tripled up, staff headcount has doubled again, we're in a bunch of new markets and I've got lots more shiny global brands; I hope for more of the same at a faster pace."

Despite its global success, Barouch said he still considers Local Measure to be a startup.

"Twitter still calls itself a startup, and they're a $15 billion company; it's kind of sexy and cool to be a startup at the moment, so I'm not sure I want to lose the tie," he said.

"We're beyond the early phase, and now in a growth state, with some of the biggest brands in the world using our software, so we're a bit further than a guy and a girl in a garage, but I do think we're a startup.

"A startup is a tech company in its early stages of development, experiencing high growth, potentially venture or capital backed -- I think we probably meet all of those criteria."

Barouch said if there was any advice he could offer a startup in Australia, it would be to remain optimistic, and focus on the end state.

"Throughout each bit of the journey I think you learn so much as you go through, and what works, and what doesn't work," he said. "Don't be disheartened."

"Some days it feels like the world and everything around you is falling, and you've been in a boxing match for 10 rounds and you've lost, and then something happens the next day and you think 'damn, this is why I'm doing this -- I love being an entrepreneur'."

Barouch said he is optimistic about the future of tech in Australia, adding "it is an exciting time in the tech world for this country at the moment".

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